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2018 Young Hearts Matter Award Nominations Open

Texas Council on Family Violence is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Young Hearts Matter awards. These awards recognize individuals who inspire and lead their communities to promote healthy relationships for young hearts in Texas. Recipients will be honored in February 2018 and will receive a $200 honorarium for the Activist of the Year and Advocate of the Year award categories.  

Award Categories 

Young Hearts Matter Activist of the Year recognizes a young person who has been a driving force for social change among their peers and has done significant work to promote awareness and prevention of dating abuse in their community or school.  Young Hearts Matter Advocate of the Year recognizes an adult ally who partners with young people, is a leader for violence prevention in their community, and has made prevention programming more accessible as a result of their efforts.  

How to Apply 

Sound like someone you know? Submit an application onlineDeadline: December 21, 2017 

Nominees will be directly notified of their nomination by TCFV and the final award recipients will be announced in February 2018 in observance of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  

For additional questions, please contact: Shannon Spriggs Murdoch, Prevention Director 512-685-6317 or email smurdoch@tcfv.org 

 

Honoring Texas Victims: TCFV Responds to the Domestic Violence Murders in Sutherland Springs, Texas

For Immediate Release

Gloria A. Terry, TCFV, 512-627-5295 gterry@tcfv.org
Aaron Setliff, TCFV, 512-590-9808 asetliff@tcfv.org
Mikisha Hooper, TCFV, 580-380-6615 mhooper@tcfv.org

Honoring Texas Victims: TCFV Responds to the Domestic Violence Murders in Sutherland Springs, Texas

Domestic Violence Tears at the Very Fabric of Texas with 146 Women Killed by Their Male Intimate Partners in 2016 and 24 Additional Family Members, Friends and Bystanders Also Harmed

Make no mistake: domestic violence causes far reaching impact and devastation on Texas families and communities.  Violence at home too often erupts into neighborhoods, workplaces and indeed places of worship.  These heartbreaking domestic violence related murders over the weekend tear at the very fabric of Texas. 

Points of fact: In an analysis of mass shootings nationally between 2009 and 2015 perpetrators killed intimate part­ners or other family members in 57% of the cases. In 15% of the cases, the perpetrator had a prior domestic violence charge. Moreover, in Texas in the last year, 146 women lost their lives at the hands of a male intimate partner, an additional 24 children and adults were killed in those 146 incidents. Also in 2016, Texas experienced eight incidents of familicide – a significant increase from the prior year total of zero, where perpetrators killed their children and partner before killing themselves. Additionally, firearms were used in 68% of the 146 incidents, 15% were stabbed, 10% were strangled and the remaining 7% involved other means of death.

We continue to underestimate the reach and devastation of domestic violence.  Seeing it only as a microcosm, as something that happens privately between two people. Yet domestic violence thrives in the silence and obliviousness we give it.

Only when we confront the very conditions which allow domestic violence to exist will our homes, public spaces and places of worship be truly safe.

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Texas Council on Family Violence is the only 501(c) 3 nonprofit coalition in Texas dedicated solely to creating safer communities and freedom from family violence. With a state-wide reach and direct local impact, TCFV, with the collective strength of more than 1000 members, shapes public policy, equips service providers, and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Visit us online at http://www.tcfv.org/

Go Purple – Celebrate!

As October comes to an end, we want to take a moment to thank domestic violence advocates and service providers throughout the state for their amazing work in supporting survivors. Last year, nearly 73,000 Texans found support and guidance on their path to leave abuse with the help of advocates like you. Texas domestic violence programs save lives, and TCFV is proud to represent and support you as your state coalition.  

We also want to thank all the survivors who tell their stories during DVAM. Your voices lead the way. Your courage galvanizes us all to confront the conditions that permit violence to occur. And your strength inspires us to build a safer Texas.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s DVAM! Tell us what you learned and your favorite moments from this month on our Facebook and Twitter.

Stay in touch with domestic violence news and awareness opportunities all year long – sign-up for our email list!

Go Purple – Honoring Texas Victims

At TCFV, we are committed to telling the story of domestic violence in Texas. Since 1990, we’ve published the Honoring Texas Victims report – because we know that every woman deserves to be counted. This report gives factual accounts of the women killed by their partners, telling each story with utmost care and respect.

This week, we want to reflect on these women’s stories and the impact of these murders throughout our state. It is heartbreaking, necessary work to bring domestic violence out of the shadows. While the full Honoring Texas Victims report will be released later, we can share key facts to galvanize our communities:

Now more than ever, it’s essential that we work together to tell the story of domestic violence in Texas. Family violence is knowable, predictable, and preventable. Knowing the facts about domestic violence is the first step in being able to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable. Find more facts and social media graphics from the Honoring Texas Victims report on our website at TCFV.org/GoPurple.

Go Purple – Action Week

How can you make a difference for domestic violence survivors in your community? It’s easier than you might think! For the third week of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we’re asking you to stand with survivors and take action!

There is power in numbers – when you stand up for survivors, you make a difference! Tell us what you’re doing for Action Week on Facebook and Twitter.

Go Purple – Intersections & Connections

Domestic violence effects our whole community. Each year, a network of passionate domestic violence service providers and sister organizations strive to help Texas families create opportunities for freedom from violence. Yet for too many in our state, help can be out of reach.

This week is all about building connections and recognizing intersections between domestic violence and other social justice and social welfare issues. By building connections with other organizations and passionate individuals in our communities, we strengthen our movement and our state.

Here are just some of the ways domestic violence intersects and connects throughout our communities: 

What intersections do you see that impact survivors? How do you build more connections to support survivors and their families? Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

Go Purple – Knowledge is Power

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in Texas, we Go Purple and strive for a state where no woman loses her life to domestic violence. Go Purple celebrates the progress of our movement and recognize the work still ahead toward our shared vision of a Texas free from violence.

For the first week of domestic violence, we recognize that Knowledge is Power – so let’s help our communities learn the facts and inspire change. Here are some ideas to share on social media to get you started:

How are you sharing the facts for the first week of DVAM? Tag us on Facebook and Twitter to tell us your plans for #TxDVAM!

Champions for Change

For Randy Barnes, Head Football Coach at Rains ISD, coaching is more than Friday night games. “Texas high school football coaches have always been tremendous at coaching beyond the game. We want to change kids’ lives, first and foremost.”

Coach Barnes is passionate about empowering youth leaders in his athletic program, so after noticing the frequent headlines surrounding professional and college athletes involved in domestic violence cases, he decided to take matters into his own hands. The desire to lead an initiative to address violence against women was there, but Barnes had no idea where to begin. Sports play a vital role in the lives of many young athletes, and teams often act as a second family for players. “Coaches are there for them,” he said, “but I needed more tools.”

Coach Barnes began his journey to address violence against women with a prevention curriculum designed specifically for coaches called Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM). “This is a tool that will immediately make an impact in their communities,” said Coach Barnes. “It’s easy to do, it’s timely, and it may be the most important thing they do for their kids.” Once Barnes received training on CBIM, he immediately connected to his local domestic violence program to ask the prevention team to work with the students outside of his athletic program.

“I know that everybody is facing this,” said Coach Barnes, “I’ve talked to coaches from the richest schools to the poorest schools; [domestic violence] is an issue.” In fact, one in three adult Texans have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Similarly, one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse from a dating partner.

As a result, TCFV further sharpened focus for athletic directors and coaches who take initiative to address dating violence within athletic communities. Earlier this year, TCFV hosted a think tank of seven coaches from different parts of Texas. The coaches began with a conversation on why a coach’s influence is vital to shifting culture within our communities. Although TCFV has a long history with the CBIM curriculum, it became clear on that day, even more was needed. Champions for Change was formed.

Champions for Change promotes safe and healthy relationships within athletic communities across Texas. To achieve their purpose, the CFC is based around four key concepts: modeling, education, creating awareness, and connecting with local programs.

  • Modeling: Coaches must model healthy relationships and lead by example to educate and inspire their athletes.
  • Creating Awareness: Addressing domestic violence begins with acknowledging that it is a real issue.
  • Education: Multi-session learning opportunities assure the same messages are received more than once (also called dosage).
  • Connection: Coaches are not alone – local domestic violence prevention programs can bring programming to schools.

“My coaches made the biggest impact on me in high school and junior high,” recalls Coach Barnes. Caring adults – including coaches, educators, and parents – can make all the difference in preventing dating abuse.


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Go Purple Toolkit for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is just around the corner, and with it, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Get ready to challenge your community to strive for a state where no woman loses her life to domestic violence. Go Purple by standing up for domestic violence victims and survivors and taking action to end violence in our communities. Use the Go Purple Toolkit to power your advocacy! 

Go Purple Calendar
Follow along with our Social Media Calendar and explore weekly themes. Download the Social Media Graphics Pack to customize your own campaign. Graphics available in English and Spanish.

Posters & Infographics
Customize posters and infographics in English and Spanish with your agency’s contact information and local data. New video tutorials walk you through how to customize – or use the ready-to-go materials!

Go Purple Day
Wear purple on October 19 in support of domestic violence victims throughout the state. Ask your community partners and followers to join you and post photos on social media.

Honoring Texas Victims Report
Each year, TCFV’s Honoring Texas Victims Report provides our state’s most extensive analysis of women killed in Texas by a male intimate partner. TCFV will release this year’s report during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The report will help galvanize your community and provide essential data and analysis. You will find the report, as well as a summary factsheet and social media graphics, online in October.

Go Purple!

Dads Matter – Happy Father’s Day!

For Father’s Day, TCFV celebrates fathers who devote their lives to building safer communities for their kids and by doing so, impact future generations to come. These dads lead by example, inspiring us all to envision a Texas free of violence – and strive tirelessly to accomplish this goal. They are remarkable leaders in their professional lives, and remarkable fathers at home.
 
Thank you to these dads and happy Father’s Day!

Representative Abel Herrero, Robstown, TX

Representative Abel Herrero has dedicated his career to serving the Robstown-area for more than 17 years, first as city council member, and then as state representative. As chair of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, Rep. Herrero has been an energetic ally in promoting laws that help domestic violence survivors. In the 84th session, he successfully stewarded a law to allow juries to hear more information about an abuser’s past violence – a transformational improvement for victims seeking justice. “As these survivors take brave steps towards breaking the cycle of violence, I am proud to have played even a small part in providing a hopeful path forward,” said Rep. Herrero.

Representative Herrero is a father to five: Annalisa – 17, Andrea – 12, Abel Jr. – 10, Alexia – 8, and Aliana – 6. “Cherish every moment with your children because time will not stand still, but most of all, because they are your greatest blessings.”

Coach Josh Ragsdale, South Garland High School, Garland, TX

On Coach Ragsdale’s team, respect for women is the standard. Every student on his football team pledges to help stop domestic violence. It’s part of Coach Ragsdale’s Domestic Violence Awareness Project, an effort he has lead for the last three years. The project has been a major success, spurring universities to create programs to teach about dating and sexual violence and encourage their own teams to “take the pledge.” More recently, Coach Ragsdale has joined TCFV’s Coaching Leadership Group to help expand teen dating violence programs to more sports programs.

Coach Ragsdale is a father of three: Natalie – 12, Valerie – 12 and Ryan – 1. His parenting philosophy? “Don’t be afraid to use the words ‘I love you.’ I regularly tell my wife how much I love her in front of my children and hug and kiss on her. I want them to see me treat her like the queen that she deserves to be treated like. In turn, I want my girls to expect to be treated the same way and be respected for the wonderful ladies that they are. I also want my son to ‘want to be like daddy.’ I want him to grow up with a servant’s heart and a man who fully respects women.”

Judge Tano Tijerina, County Judge of Webb County, Laredo, TX

For Judge Tano Tijerina, service to his community is a family value. The Webb County native and former professional baseball player comes from a family of civil servants. Perhaps that history contributed to his desire to go above and beyond the job of judge to become a moral leader in his community. Last year, Judge Tijerina launched the Be A Man and Stand Up Campaign, calling on Texas men to be active participants in the movement to end violence against women in Texas.

Judge Tijerina is a father of four: Bonnie Jean – 19, Cayetano Isaac – 16, Christopher Alfonso – 11, and Keith Alexander – 11. When it comes to parenting, he says: “Allow your kids to be their own persona with guidance and love, and the rest is just details.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, TX

Mayor Sylvester Turner has consistently and enthusiastically raised the profile of domestic violence services in Houston during his tenure as Mayor. He has also been an active leader in promoting Texas values of respect for diversity and tolerance. Prior to his work as mayor, he spent 27 years representing Houstonians in the Texas House, where he served on the budget committee and helped secure full funding for family violence programs.
Mayor Turner is a proud father to daughter Ashley. Ashley is continuing the family tradition of public service in the healthcare field. Some of the best advice he has received? “When times were rough, [my mother] told us that tomorrow would be better than today. Today, it is evident that what my mom said is very true.”


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Supporting LGBT Victims & Survivors – Pride Month

June is LGBT Pride Month and TCFV is highlighting the importance of recognizing and supporting LGBT victims and survivors of domestic violence. One in four people in a same-sex relationship will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, a similar rate to women in heterosexual relationships. Tragically, five Texans who identified as LGBT were murdered by abusive current or ex-partners in 2015. These individuals came from diverse regions of Texas, including El Paso, Austin, Marietta, and Tyler.

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people don’t seek help from family violence programs. Our social attitudes – about gender, about sexuality, and about violence – can be very real, significant barriers to making sure that everyone has access to safe services. And while intimate partner violence in LGBT relationships has many similarities to violence in heterosexual relationships, there are some key differences that significantly impact the way survivors get help.

Similarities:

  • The abuser’s goal is power, dominance and control.
  • Abuse can continue even after one partner leaves and is common.
  • Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse.
  • Under-reporting is common.

Differences:

  • Seeking help can mean coming out.
  • Seeking help can mean outing a partner.
  • The abuser can use homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia as additional tools for abuse.
  • The abuse can wrongly be perceived as mutual.
  • Legal remedies, resources, and support structures may be limited.

What You Can Do:

Everyone has a role to play in promoting safe and healthy relationships. The most important thing you can do to help? Stand up against homophobia and transphobia wherever you see it. Homophobia and transphobia hurt everyone, but discrimination can be life-threatening for the most vulnerable among us, including survivors of domestic violence. By calling out homophobia and transphobia wherever you see it, you can help change our culture so that survivors can get help when they need it.

TCFV’s LGBT Stakeholder Group works to advocate for the inclusion of LGBT voices in the work to end violence and to advocate for the needs of LGBT survivors. Currently, the Stakeholder Group is working to research and analyze the intimate partner murders of LGBT Texans.

Here are some tips you can use to make space for LGBT victims of domestic violence:

  • Use gender-neutral language when possible – In some contexts, it can be helpful to acknowledge that women are the majority of victims and men are the majority of offenders, but unless you have a specific reason to use gendered language, try using gender neutral language to be more inclusive.
  • Use mirroring language for sexual and gender identification – Mirroring language means using the same terms as the person you are speaking with, including pronouns, sexual identification, and gender identification. If you aren’t sure what words to use, ask.
  • Make connections within your local community – Make a point of reaching out to local organizations in your community that support LGBT folks. Prevention and outreach events are good opportunities to build community connections.
  • Educate yourself about the issues – Take the time to learn about LGBT issues. The more you know, the more good you can do.

TCFV is committed to helping every Texas program serve LGBT victims of domestic violence. Have questions? Call our TA line at 1-800-525-1978 for more support.


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Moms Make a Difference!

On Mother’s Day, TCFV acknowledges the leadership of women who have made it their life’s work to empower other women. These women create remarkable services and policies and challenge conditions that permit violence to occur. These extraordinary women are also exceptional mothers. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Annette Burrhus-Clay, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault – Austin, TX

Annette Burrhus-Clay has given selflessly of her time, talents and treasures to ameliorate violence against women. Her commitment is evidenced by her remarkable 21-year tenure at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. Annette is a fierce activist to the core, and her work influences state and national practice and policy. While her heart belongs to her four adult children, the center of her universe are her six grandchildren: Brayden, Anaya, Beau, Camille, Ami and two-week-old Norah.

“Kids taught me to I’m more capable than I thought and had a greater capacity for love than I imagined. Grandkids have taught me to let go of the unimportant things that keep us distracted or angry.”

Connie Gray, Focusing Families – Hempstead, TX

Connie Gray wears many hats at Focusing Families – children’s counselor, prevention director, and even mom! Connie’s adult daughter, Nicole, works alongside her at the agency, inspired by her mom’s passion. Together, they work in schools to change the culture and equip young people with the tools they need to empower themselves and build connections within their communities.

Connie is a steadfast advocate for young people. {waiting for more context}. As a mom of three, her kids inspire her as much as she’s inspired them. “They taught me to believe the impossible and dream big.”

 

Rosa Hopkins, Women’s Center of East Texas – Longview, TX

Rosa Hopkins is the BIPP Coordinator at the Women’s Center of East Texas, where she works to hold batterers accountable and teach them the fundamentals of leading healthy, nonviolent relationships. She started working with offenders as an independent BIPP counselor because she saw the need in her community.

Rosa is well-respected in the community as a gifted and committed facilitator. Working with offenders isn’t always easy, but Rosa is driven by her compassion. Her own background – she is a survivor of domestic violence now happily married and the mother of two sons – fuels her empathy and ability to build connections in her work. “They’re human beings – I’m here to be an example of what kindness looks like, what human compassionate looks like.”

Toni Johnson-Simpson, Denton County Friends of the Family – Denton, TX

Toni Johnson-Simpson’s journey towards executive leader of the Denton County Friends of the Family started as an altruistic 21-year-old college student. Her passion has never flagged since. Toni expects more from her community in regards to victim compassion, batterer accountability and access to services because she knows that all children deserve it. And while her professional accomplishments are impressive, her personal ones monumental. Toni is a mom to three: daughter Ebonie and twins Justin and Jaydah.

Toni credits her children for teaching her to love and to take time to enjoy life. When things get difficult she embraces wise words from Jaydah: “I’m going to celebrate how much I DID get done because I am still fabulous.” Yes, Toni – you are.

 

Rosie Martinez

Rosie Martinez has dedicated her career of over 16 years to victim services and currently serves as the Victims Unit Director at Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s office. Victims’ services has been more than a career for Rosie; she calls it her “passion and lifetime mission,” and it shows in her leadership throughout the community. Rosie volunteers on the Hidalgo County Family Violence Task Force, Rio Grande Valley Human Trafficking Coalition, Child Fatality Review Team, Citizen’s Review Team of DFPS, and the Hidalgo County Truancy Policy Committee.

A mom to five and grandmother of three, Rosie says her kids drive her work. “The sense of accomplishment that comes from hearing your children tell you that you are their inspiration, their role model, that they are proud of you and that they want to be like you is the best feeling in life.”


Stay up-to-date with TCFV news and resources: sign up for our email list! 

Safe Moms, Safe Kids

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Violence within families is complex, and requires our whole community to work together to promote safe and nurturing homes. Family violence survivors who are parents play an instrumental role in helping promote the safety and well-being of their children. By supporting survivors parents, we can support their role as protective parents. 

Family violence programs and child advocacy organizations each have a role to play in promoting safe families. We are united in our goals and in our guiding principles. One such guiding principle? That enhancing the safety of the parent who is a victim of domestic violence enhances the child’s safety. We asked our partners in this vital work to share what that guiding principle means to them. 

“Enhancing the safety of the parent who is a victim of domestic violence enhances the child’s safety.”


Leigh Ann Fry, Executive Director of Noah Project:

The idea of keeping children safe should be a simple concept. In its most basic form it means to do whatever it takes to secure a safe, healthy life for a child. However, the safety of a child cannot be teased apart from the safety of a protective parent who also happens to be a victim of family violence. For too long those concepts did not co-exist.

Within the last few years we have come to understand in a deep and meaningful way that often the best way to keep a child safe is to keep their victim parent safe. Through careful safety planning, recognizing and highlighting the protective capacities that a parent already may have in place, or helping them to identify new means of protective capacity, we are doing our part to secure safety for children. Additionally, it is essential in moving forward with enhancing victim safety that we hold batterers accountable. It is unfortunate that this continues to frequently be the greatest barrier to enhanced safety. Frequently the focus is put on requiring the victim to participate in some type of services rather than holding the batterer accountable. We cannot and should not allow the excuse that the batterer refuses services or disappears altogether during investigative periods. The vehicles of BIPP and best practices in community collaboration are only some of the tools immediately at our disposal for batterer accountability.

We must recognize that for many this is a relatively new concept and it is the diligent work of providers that will help turn the tides of victim blaming and welcome a paradigm shift where we recognize child safety and parent safety as synonymous.


Judge Darlene Byrne, 126th Civil District Court, Travis County:

After more than a decade of hearing CPS cases, I have held more than 14,000 hearings and seen firsthand how the safety of the child is intimately tied to the safety of the victim of domestic violence. A very high percentage of these cases involve domestic violence, either as an immediate crisis or past experiences that have contributed to the trauma and behaviors of those involved.  In most of my cases, the children want to be with one or both of their parents in the end. They just want the adults they love to stop fighting with their hands and words and to live in a home free from violence in which no one is hurt. As we move toward safety and permanency for a child, however, the Court and all Court participants must understand that domestic violence is complex. Safety doesn’t immediately happen when a CPS case has been filed, or a kick-out order issued, or a protective order sought. In fact, the initiation of these actions may be the most unsafe time for the victim and the children involved. When CPS and domestic violence cases collide, judges and court teams need the assistance of professionals who are well-trained in the complexities of domestic violence to help them make the safest possible decisions for the victim and children involved.


Christina Green, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas Director of Public Affairs and Sarah Crockett, Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates Public Policy Coordinator:

Children are our future, our legacy, our hope – and in Texas, the protection and safety of our children is paramount. During April’s focus on child abuse awareness it is important to emphasize that protecting children is not the responsibility of one person, one group, one agency, or one entity. Rather, the responsibility to keep our children safe rests on all of us.

Strong communities, buoyed up by public-private partnerships that support strong families, are a critical part of keeping families and children safe. Local community programs like children’s advocacy centers, court appointed special advocates (CASA), and family violence programs let children and families know that they are not alone and have resources, services, and caring people to walk alongside them through some of their most difficult times. The result is a stronger system and superior services for children and families. It is only with this multifaceted, all-hands-on-deck approach that we can ensure that families have the tools and 360-degree support they need to break the cycle of all types of abuse.

We are part of a system that is greater than the sum of its parts, and the work that we do together produces more resilient and hopeful communities and families. Rather than turning a blind eye to what can be a difficult and heartbreaking topic, will you be a part of this collective solution in your local community? Join us this month by wearing blue to raise awareness, volunteering, or starting a courageous conversation. We can’t do it without you.


Deborah Tucker, Domestic Violence Specialist, Division of Practice Excellence, Child Protective Services, Department of Family and Protective Services:

Child Protective Services took to heart the Guiding Principles of the Task Force to Address the Relationship between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect. April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month provides opportunity to share practice changes that better protect Texas children and adults harmed by the same perpetrator.

In partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence the Disposition Guidelines for Domestic Violence assist CPS to determine the best intervention when child abuse and domestic violence are alleged. Among the underlying philosophical shifts at CPS the Guidelines reinforce separately considering the actions of each parent/caretaker.

Instead of CPS reports that read “the parents were fighting, the child got between them and was struck,” reports now say “John hit Jane. Jack tried to step between to protect his mother and John hit him too.” This allows CPS to better coordinate services for the family.

CPS training promotes partnerships with adult victims, including connecting them with Family Violence Programs (FVPs), family, and friends who help keep them and their children safe. To support changes in behavior CPS Family Group Decision-Making meetings now include FVPs and welcome mentors of the person using the violence. If best for safety, CPS arranges for participation of the perpetrator by phone rather than in-person.

These are among many examples of how CPS, TCFV, and FVPs apply the Guiding Principles to protect children and adults while seeking to end violence. We make a difference together.


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Believe Survivors

Did you know that sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in Texas?  

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) and TCFV stands united with our partners, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and programs working across the state and country to end sexual assault. As Texans who care about ending violence in our state, we recognize the importance of knowing the key facts about sexual violence and being champions for all survivors.

The Facts about Sexual Assault in Texas:

  • 3 million Texans have experienced sexual assault— that’s one third of all Texans.
  • 413,000 Texans are sexually assaulted each year.
  • 92% of survivors never report to law enforcement.
  • 3% of rapists spend any time behind bars.

While sexual and domestic violence are distinct forms of violence that require their own approaches, our movements have always worked hand in hand to build a safer Texas. Here are just a few of the connections between sexual and domestic violence.

 1. Sexual assault and domestic violence are choices.

Violence is not natural, unpredictable, or uncontrollable. Abusers choose to be violent, and they can choose to stop. Perpetrators specifically target their abusive behaviors to people who (they think) they can get away with hurting. When we recognize violence as an individual’s choice, not an inevitability, we open opportunities for change.

 2. Sexual assault and domestic violence are social issues, not just individual crimes.

Perpetrators of violence are responsible for their own violence. Yet behaviors have context: social and cultural ideas about power, control, masculinity, and gender shape and influence all of us. When we acknowledge the cultures of violence within our communities, we can address deep-rooted beliefs that condone and reward violence.

3. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are both subjected to victim-blaming.

“Why was she wearing that?”

“Why didn’t he fight back?”

“Why didn’t she just leave?”

Survivors are often asked accusatory questions that frame them as responsible for the violence committed against them. Victim-blaming shifts the focus from the actual perpetrator of violence onto the survivor. This is part a culture of violence that excuses the perpetrator’s choices and actions. When we listen to survivors and believe them, we can combat victim-blaming and focus on real solutions to violence.

4. We all have a role to play in building a safer Texas.

Ending violence means changing our culture – and everyone has a role to play in promoting safe and healthy standards. Check out the SAAPM toolkits from Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for actions you can take during April – and all year long – to prevent sexual violence in our communities. 


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Image credit: National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Creating Safer Spaces Initiatives: Why ‘Safer’?

Safer-quote

“A victim who is no longer hit by a partner but has no way to feed her children or pay the rent is not safe…Victims are safe when there is no violence, their basic human needs are met, and they experience social and emotional well-being.”

– Jill M. Davies & Eleanor Lyons

Have you ever attended one of TCFV’s trainings or read our materials and wondered; Why do they seem so intent on using the term ‘safer’ and not ‘safety’? It seems like a small difference, but shifting those two letters actually reflecst the core tenant of a service philosophy.

The philosophy: survivors of domestic violence are the experts in their own lives. Developed by leaders of the domestic violence movement, Jill M. Davies & Eleanor Lyons, this philosophy calls on advocates to focus on creating a space where survivors can reach out for the services they say they need.

It also encompasses a simple, but critical notion: Leaving does not equal safety & safety is much more than leaving. As a movement initiated by women, including women of color and the LGBTQ community who have experienced additional oppression, we are keenly aware that safety is not always easily found.

Consider:

  • Has a victim who has left their abusive partner and has nowhere to go achieved “safety”?
  • Is a victim at a shelter who is currently seeking custody of their children “safe”?
  • Is a homeless woman with domestic violence in her past “safe” on the streets?
  • What if that victim lives in poverty or is undocumented?

TCFV has created a series of trainings and resources that embrace this philosophy. We work with programs across Texas to create safer spaces for survivors to seek services, access legal remedies, and speak out about the violence they have experienced.

One way we can create safer spaces for survivors is to consider something as basic as the forms that programs use. For many survivors, the initial contact with a service provider is the moment they chose to engage with a supportive partner or to leave. Yet sometimes, the initial contact with a program can be frustrating because of forms that are repetitive or unintentionally serve to re-victimize the survivor.

The Resource Checklist - click to expand
The Resource Checklist – click to expand

After interviewing over 100 Texas survivors and program experts, we developed new model forms that are friendly and welcoming. Texas contains a wide variety of communities and cultures, so the forms take literacy and language access into account.

For example, the Resource Checklist gives survivors a quick overview of the services a survivor can access at a domestic violence center. Sometimes trauma exposure can affect the way survivors’ process information and focus. The new form separates the information into boxes with distinct colors and easy-to-understand language so that the content is easier to focus on. For each resource on the Checklist, TCFV also provides tip sheets for advocates. This gives advocates the tools they needed to support survivors on identified assistance areas.

Safety may not be simple, but by recognizing survivors as the experts in their own lives, we can work together to create safer spaces for everyone.

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Image credit: “Close up of lavender flower” by Elminium is licensed under CC BY 2.0